- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Even though some fields are still encrusted with snow, state officials are reminding New Yorkers that residential brush burning in towns with less than 20,000 residents is prohibited through May 15 because of the risk of spring wildfires.

Brush burning is prohibited year-round in larger towns.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens says open burning is the largest cause of spring wildfires in the state. New York has had strict rules on open burning since 2009 to help prevent wildfires and reduce air pollution.

The rules allow residential brush fires in rural towns during most of the year, but prohibit such burning from March 16 through May 15. Campfires using charcoal or firewood are allowed.

Martens says the number of spring fires has decreased from 3,297 in 2009 to 1,425 in 2014.

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